Great, I’ve subscribed to the mailing list and I’ll look out for new updates from your blog
I know, it has given me some of my best gaming memories, especially with the peleton expansion. I was in the break away at the start and just managed to cling through to the end by the skin of my teeth and won my first ever game. It was pretty awesome.
I’m Ryan, been following the SU&SD vids for a few years, but finally wanted to join the forum to hopefully branch out to meet new game people and get more games to the table.
Top games right now would be War Chest, Nemo’s War and Tiny Epic Galaxies, mainly because two of them solo and I can actually get my partner to play War Chest.
Anyway, I’m local to the Burnaby heights just outside Vancouver and happy to be here! Time to get acquainted. See ya!
Hi, Ryan! Welcome!
Generally speaking, we all want to meet nice new folks, and I can’t think of anyone on this forum who wouldn’t love to get an extra game or two or six to the table each week. You’re in good company.
And I hear ya on having a good solo game or two about. Matching schedules with friends sometimes seems like waiting for the planets to align. (My favorite solo jam is currently Leaving Earth, but I’ve heard good things about Nemo’s War, too.)
Anyhoo, wade on in and be friendly, won’t you?
I’m very intrigued by War Chest, what’s your experience with it? Is your partner into games as well or is there something special about it that they find exciting?
(Also hello! )
Hey Felix! I can actually get my partner to play several games, not sure why I worded it like that! Main issue is getting more than 2 at my table.
As for War Chest specifically, well, I’ll give you the short version first, but say the word and I’ll absolutely gush.
Essentially it comes down to the flow of the game. Unlike chess and other chesslikes (Onitama is the one I’m most familiar with), it doesn’t take long to hit the “skill wall” - referring to that awkward point where you’re competent at the game and now struggle to find evenly matched opposition. These types of games tend to be so binary, there is literally no room between an erroneous move and a correct one. The variant is simply: how bad did that move mess you up?
With War Chest, because of the coins working triple duty as your economy, power AND mobility, the board becomes far less threatening. I can, as an example, place a unit within one of my opponent’s attack zones—hedging on what I know about their draw cycle, and anticipate high odds of surviving until the next round. Essentially, the bag economy offers breathing room on a board that would be stifling in other abstracts. This allows for more freeform strategies of varying degrees of success, and has eliminated rote memorization of tricks and traps so common in other similar games.
[EDIT] And Brian - Leaving Earth is a priority purchase for me. Really looking forward to getting my hands on that one!
Chess-like games and finding opponents
I don’t really understand much of this. Is the “skill wall” because you are too strong and everyone else is weak, or too weak and everyone else is too strong? “How badly did that move mess you up?” is precisely why it isn’t binary! There is a very granular and wide range of how badly you can mess up, which means by definition it’s not binary. The idea of a “correct” move is misleading, as only grandmasters and AlphaZero have any real chance of finding it, so it isn’t relevant for casual/amateur play, unless you are referring specifically to well-mapped opening moves with high confidence values.
All that said, I’m not a fan of chess and chesslikes and prefer Go, though I have soft spot for Xiang Qi, which is relatively simple and develops quickly.
It seems to me you are mostly just describing a well-known aspect of game design, which is that randomness is a great leveller. If a more skilled player would beat a less skilled player 100 % of the time, and one or both of those players has a problem with that, just add random.
I do take your point about eliminating rote play, but adding probabilities to the consideration doesn’t really change a lot - it doesn’t even necessarily make assessing the board state any more difficult. What it does do, is give a weaker play a chance to randomly become a strong one.
NB: I am a big fan of random elements, and will happily play Twilight Struggle over chess every time. I’m just in the mood for picking holes in arguments I don’t really understand.
Pick away! Though do note there wasn’t an argument until just now.
I wrote my reply over a coffee break and I’m writing this one on the bus, so forgive me for cherry picking here:
With respect to the “skill problem” in chesslike games, you nailed it - there comes a point where you’ve “graduated” from being a pure novice and will now destroy other novices, but get completely wrecked by more experienced players. This is a “problem” for me only insofar as I’m not willing to put in the time to really get much better than competent, and as a result, I find many of these games have a very short honeymoon with respect to fun factor, until it very abruptly transforms into WORK.
Randomness isn’t at all what I mean with respect to War Chest (though I also love chance in games and the blind draws do mean chance is a factor)**.
War Chest is 100% open. The only concealed information is what’s in the bag, and the coins in play usually number well below 20, so mitigating (or eliminating) your luck is always something that can be done with confidence. Essentially, if it’s not on the table, it’s in the bag.
Critically, War Chest does not focus on unit captures, as the win state is earned by area control. Attrition makes this goal easier, naturally, but only very rarely do my games end with deeply whittled-down armies and not once has a victory been earned this way. In fact, a few games have ended in tense races against a deeply weakened opponent. A well timed strategic shift by a deeply outnumbered player can really put a cocky aggressor on their heels if they don’t keep their eyes on the prize.
So absolutely, if you want to reduce things to “randomness”, then yes, that’s a big element here, but I hope I’ve done a little better explaining the random factor, since it’s deeply mitigated, and the combination of luck and abstract strategy would otherwise make this game actual poison for a huge group of people.
Finally, I get the point about chess/chesslikes not being binary in terms of your choices and strategies, but the fact remains most games of this ilk focus on capturing units, and so the game is binary insofar as you move and are safe or not safe. Safe isn’t inherently good, unsafe isn’t inherently bad. But War Chest adds an element of “space”, for lack of a better word, as you can make your calculated risks not only from turn-by-turn strategies, but by considering draw rates. To be more direct: in chess, if your unit is in danger, it will be taken or not based on opponent choice. In War Chest you may place a unit in danger knowing full well the opponent may or may not, or CANNOT take it.
**Naturally chance and randomness are the same, I’m doing what I can here to better explain how MINIMAL the chance element is.
Ah, OK, I get the “skill wall” now. Seems to me it applies to most games - I’m usually better than anyone I know at the games I have played the most, but worse than strangers who play mostly/only that game, so I’m either “teaching” friends or seeking out and being trashed by strangers (and maybe feeling like I’m wasting their time). This just seems to be a problem common to all competitive games, unless you switch out a significant portion of skill for chance or social engineering, or just happen to learn a game at the same rate as a friend.
Still not really getting (the significance of) your other points. Adding probabilities to assessing board state doesn’t really change a lot. It does mean that a “bad” move (an unnecessary risk, or a miscalculated probability) can randomly become a “good” one even if your opponent makes the “correct” response. That shakes things up, and allows more potential for turning games around, which is a good thing most of the time. I also like the added assessment required to recognise that a board state is heading towards your loss, so you have to switch to moves that would normally be “bad” - the equivalent in a combinatorial game would be going “off script” to throw your opponent, because no-one is really capable of perfect assessment.
I think we’re mostly in agreement though. I also don’t tend to play chess or chess-likes. I find them a little too stressful, requiring a little too much focus, and in any case I suspect that none of the people I regularly play games with have any interest in combinatorial games. A game like Tash-Kalar (or, I guess, War Chest), on the other hand, which shares just a little of that combinatorial feel with a big helping of chance, is really easy to get played.
Nah, you clearly get the significance. Thanks for better encapsulating what I was trying to get across!
And it really needs to be said that on top of those points, a huge part of why I’m so eager to get this on the table with more folks is to have more folks at the table! I have a friend on the east coast (I’m Canadian by the way) who has a foursome that plays the team variant. Another way War Chest is totally open is with regard to table talk - all strategies are openly discussed. He’s convinced 2v2 is the ideal way to play the game and hasn’t had anything short of a riotous good time each time they get together.
I just used riotous to describe an abstract strategy game. And my more than two dozen 1v1 games with my partner were always exciting, tense, riddled with choice… I hate to reduce anything to a certain je ne sais quois, but in this case it really seems to boil down to the combination of deck/bag-building, tactics, and area control. Whether or not this tickles everyone else’s fancy quite as well as it clearly does for me of course comes down to the individual, but man, it’s a goodun. Anyway getting a little soapboxy at the end here, will cut it out.
Make some room for the new kids!
Let them in. A huge conversation could be done elsewhere here, more effectively in a different or new topic (it wouldn’t be the first time).
Introducing oneself is why this topic is here.
Yes, I’m being a mod-downer, but let’s allow new kids to have their turn.
The conversation is done. You are too late to forestall it! Mwahahahaah!
… I’ll get my coat.
(Hi, new people)
Dammed you Beeeeennnkyyooooo!!!
(I’m not sure if I pronounced your screen name correctly @Benkyo)
(still putting my coat on)
If we’re going by Japanese, it’s Be-n-kyo-u (each part equal weight). So, in English, two syllables ben-kyo. Hmm, this isn’t clarifying kyo much. How about - take “skew”, drop the “s”, and replace the “ew” sound with “oh”?
(out the door)
I’m Chris. I’ve been playing games all of my life, but REALLY got into gaming in college when a few friends and I dug into the Pathfinder RPG. Since then I’ve developed a strong addiction to light and medium weight games. I glorify the heavy weights but I just haven’t found the right group to check them out with, yet.
My current favorite games are:
My fiance and I have our own pet care business that supports us while I work on building various other small businesses.
It’s wonderful to meet all of you!
Hullo @mrniel! Welcome to the clubhouse!
I like all of those, but have a particular fondness for Blokus because it’s kid-friendly (I got kids).
Don’t indulge in the heavy games until you find the right group, unless you can afford it and really love reading rules (I have at least four games I can never play just because I think they’re neat, so I’m no one to talk).
(Sorry we didn’t say that 3 days ago, weekends get a bit slow around here. We’re all playing games.)
No worries! Thanks for the advice. Blokus quickly became one of my favorites when my fiance introduced me to it. Though, we rarely play it anymore after I won a few intense games in a row…
I am trying to brave and stop lurking. Step 1, made account.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: profit